Felix da Housecat and Diddy present…Lectro Black’s “Last Train to Paris” Mixtape!
by Marcus K. Dowling
At about fourteen minutes of Diddy and Felix da Housecat’s “Lectro Black – Last Train to Paris Mixtape,” Diddy, as “Lectro Black,” a house music exhorter that meets at the cross section between Cyrus and the Gramercy Riffs attempting to unify the gangs of New York in The Warriors and Afrikaa Bambaataa’s sampled and mixed exultations over Kraftwerk’s “Numbers” and “Trans-Europe Express” on “Planet Rock,” does more to upset the quickly moving into ridiculousness and absurdity nature of mainstream hip hop than Jay-Z could’ve ever done on “Death of Autotune,” when he states…
“…this that gangsta music, that type of shit that makes you lose control, makes you lose your mind, body and your soul, type of shit that makes you shoot up a club…”
No, that statement isn’t uttered over a tough sample of Billy Squier’s “Big Beat,” or even over the squeals and sirens of NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton.” It isn’t even done in the context of the horns that are the precursor to the warning of MOP telling you to “Ante Up.” Yes, in hip hop before thismixtape, those were indeed the tracks that’d make me want to “shoot up a club.” Well, that’s certainly changed. Diddy instead utters this in the middle of Felix the Housecat amping the electro mix up to 130 BPM on this mixtape. Is this a hip hop club? No, probably not. But, if Diddy’s involved, it could soon very well be, and that speaks volumes about where hip hop is headed when Diddy hops aboard his Last Train to Paris, once the electro and house music dipped in hip hop concept album is released on November 24th.
It’s one thing for Pitbull to take “Calabria” by Enur, “Push the Feeling On” by the Nitecrawlers, and “75, Brazil Street” by Nicola Fasano Vs Pat Rich and create four minute hits that stick out like sore thumbs in radio formats, but get a pass because, “Pitbull’s on some Miami club ish. (yes, we’ve all said it before)” But we’re at a completely different place when Sean Combs commissions Felix da Housecat to spin electro and dubstep (which Diddy humorously calls “that dirty sound”) for 57 minutes and call it “hip hop.”
Felix da Housecat didn’t have to do this. Diddy could’ve cultivated this album with just about anyone, and, well, it likely would’ve sounded contrived, terrible, and filled with all manner ofBmore club samples, typical hip hop breaks and samples, and ending up with a very ironic, hipster leaning sound. But no. Diddy aims for validity in the house music world at large, and Felix responds, in one mix doing more to legitimize Diddy’s attempt at expanding the concept of urban sound than he ever could have done by constantly showcasing his “Dirty Money Crew (who will be featured almost exclusively on the album)” of himself, fomer Danity Kane member Dawn Richard and newcomer Keelena singing over electro samples whenever the trio is featured at any point of his new “Making My Band” on MTV. Secretly, Felix was the man behind the sound of “Last Night,” so he’s clearly had no fear of taking Diddy here before, but wow. This is a horse of a different color entirely. To the average person, the Last Train to Paris concept should come off like a danceable 808s and Heartbreak. That’s expected. But what Kanye West owes his album’s success to moody 80s synth pop and the tribal drums of deep house and polite forays into electro, Diddy jumps into the scene fully and completely, creating something that has to be regarded as “hip hop” by affiliation to Diddy alone, but comes off as a far far far far cooler collaboration than anything MSTRKRFT could’ve conceived for their poorly received yet very appreciable Fist of God. Diddy cosigns Felix and Felix, by laying down a masterful mix, more than cosigns Diddy.
But all of that is not to say, like all things Diddy, that it’s not mainstream accessible. he constantly appears as a hypeman on the mix, not so much hyping Felix, but guiding the listener, more than likely a completely terrified hip hop fan that really can’t wrap his ears around the fact that Diddy would attempt something like this, through the moods and emotions Felix is attempting to evoke. It’s here where we get the album’s meaning, as the “Last Train to Paris” is the attempt to reach a woman, a lost love, and Paris, the beautiful city of romance, represents the bliss of finding the woman, and the train, well, the train are the wonderful rhythms provided by the DJ to take one to that location.Diddy ruminates, as aforementioned about “shooting up a club,” but also discusses cunnilingus in both the literal and metaphorical sense, and really gets open about the euphoric sensations of house music. This euphoria creates the mix’s most telling point, as he cosigns MGMT’s “Kids,” as the chorus over those New Order styled synths are literally the only other voices heard anywhere on the mix, as Diddy refers to the chorus as “the voices of angels.” Of course, Jim Jones and Jermaine Dupri beat Diddy to the cosigning punch, but, for a group with an album dropping early in 2010, getting Diddy to sign off creates the type of crossover appeal that 50 A & R reps couldn’t likely muster on their own.
Diddy sampled The Police, David Bowie, Matthew Wilder, Kool and the Gang, and pretty much anyone that ever had a hit single in the 1980s and changed hip hop before. Now, clearly, in dropping this mixtape, and DARING the hip hop community to question his authority and past record in the industry as a hip hop tastemaker, he’s clearly changed it again.